The 2017 Kemp Symposium

“Ten Days that Shook the World”: Reflections on the Russian Revolution 100 Years Later

A centennial symposium exploring the impact of two of the Russian Revolution’s most radical projects: the establishment of gender equality and the liberation of Soviet society from the “opiate” of religious belief.

Thursday, May 4 and Friday, May 5, 2017
Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine

Keynote Address: "Gender-Bender or Macho Mania? Sexual Politics of the Russian Revolution"
Laura Engelstein, Henry S. McNeil Professor Emerita of Russian History at Yale

Gender, as it always does, played a double role in the Russian Revolution and Civil War. On the one hand, as an organizing principle that affected what people experienced and what role they played. On the other, as a symbolic system, conveying emotions, values, and ideas. In both cases, as a factor in the exercise and distribution of power. The Bolsheviks promised a New Man and a New Woman, but men and women there still were going to be. How was the distinction reconstituted, in life and in representation? Who got to be a man, if not a New Man? What happened to the women? This in both senses: how were they affected and where did they go? The talk will provide some reflections on these issues.

Thursday, May 4, 2017
7:30 pm
Maine Lounge, Moulton Union

Schedule of events:

Thursday, May 4:

5:45 p.m.-7:15 p.m. 

 Reception and Dinner (by invitation only), Lancaster Lounge, Moulton Union

7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Keynote Lecture: “Gender-Bender or Macho Mania? Sexual Politics of the Russian Revolution”
Laura Engelstein
Henry S. McNeil Professor Emerita of Russian History, Yale University
Main Lounge, Moulton Union

Friday, May 5 (Lancaster Lounge, Moulton Union):

Panel One:  9:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.

  • Elizabeth Wood (History, MIT), “March 8 and the Unfinished Gender Revolution In Russia: One Step Forward and Two Steps Backward, 1917-2017”

  • Anna Krylova (History, Duke University), “Socialist Feminism and Gender Agendas of Communism, 1890s-1930s”


Panel Two:  10:40 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.

  • Victoria Smolkin (History, Wesleyan University,) “Putting the Communist Home in Order: Religion and Revolution in the Family”

  • Aaron Retish (History Wayne State University), “In the Spirit of Revolution: Popular Revolutionary Justice, Soviet Laws, and New Gender Relations in the Soviet Courtroom”

12:10 p.m. Lunch (by invitation only), Hutchinson Room, Thorne Hall

Panel Three:  1:30 p.m.-2:50 p.m.

  • Vera Shevzov (Religion, Smith College), “The Good, Bad, and the Ugly: Women and Religion in Soviet Anti-Orthodox Religious Propaganda"

  • Nadia Kizenko (History, University of Albany), “Revisiting Religion and Gender at a Time of Revolution”


Panel Four:  3:10 p.m. -4:30 p.m.

  • Bill Wagner (History, Williams College),  “Preserving Faith in Revolutionary Times: Orthodox Convents in Nizhnii Novgorod Diocese, 1917-1935”

  • Page Herrlinger (History, Bowdoin College), “A Woman on the Fringe: the ‘Counter-Revolutionary’ Experience of a Religious Believer in Soviet Russia”


Page Herrlinger (Bowdoin College)

Nadia Kizenko (SUNY-Albany)

Anna Krylova (Duke)

Aaron Retish (Wayne State)

Vera Shevzov (Smith College)

Victoria Smolkin (Wesleyan)

Bill Wagner (Williams)

Elizabeth Wood (MIT)